Peter Heller on Dahlias

It’s always fascinating to watch someone learn something. Thanks to Peter Heller for taking us in to his creative process.
He says:
I am taking this wonderful class on Luminous Structures at RISD, taught by Cory Lund (sculpture MFA student) and Ipek Kosova (glass MFA student).  We had to start the class by doing a presentation on an artist or aspect of glass and mirror, and I reported on Robert Smithson (whom I had NOT previously known about).  He is fascinating, all his work with mirror and then the Displaced Mirrors/Incidents of Mirror Travel in Yucatan and the beginnings of Land Art leading up to Spiral Jetty.
– We also got trained on the amazing maker resources at RISD, including an ultraviolet printer that prints on glass — and for my test print I printed a photo of one of my dahlias on glass.
– From there it was several natural steps to:
– make a 3-sided mirror cube a la Smithson
– sandblast pieces of glass into the forms of the flowers (and sandblasting the back helps the image stand out)
– UV print a bunch of photos of dahlias I have grown onto the glass
– assemble it all into one piece

– The two photos that were taken outdoors were taken with the piece sitting in the garden where the dahlias grew 🙂  Site-Nonsite-Site to riff on Mr. Smithson.

– Different people see different things in the piece — desert flowers, or planets.  Sometimes it reminds me of those cheesy “flower garden” kits we would get as kids, where you drop special crystals in a bowl and add water, and they grow up into stalagmites in bright pastel colors similar to these.

Hakata Station

We’ve rushed through the station many times–off the bullet train, for every jaunt to town–often tired, hungry, and distracted. But noticing just how enticing it seemed. Ten stories of lavish shopping and long underground arcades of food and tiny stores. There is even a railway shrine at the top–but today I got there before it opened.
Now heading home, we’re at a boutique style hotel a few blocks away. And so back to Hakata, to experience it as more than a transfer.
First off, a fabulous smell always hit us on entry. After scouting around, we found the source–Italian bakery. I ended with a doughnut (red bean paste) from another bakery.
There is a wonderful Henry Moore statue of mother and child outside. Inside, endless blue decorative tiles, bas-relief, small plantings, and stores stores stores.
The inscription below is too archaic for google to translate. So I don’t know who this gentleman is. But I look characteristic enough.

Poetry Reading–Peter Mattair at Op. Cit

Peter Mattair

reading from his new book of poems


Saturday February 3


Op Cit Books

157 Paseo de Peralta

(in DeVargas Mall)

book signing to follow

As Carol Moldaw wrote in the book’s introduction: These are poems of grace, subtlety and apparent ease;
their lyricism, as in the “pool hall break of fallen apples,” worn lightly but not carelessly.

Renga From Japan

Today we’re excited to have our opening at Studio Kura. I expect to have photographs soon. But in the interim, I’m posting a renga written by me and Isabel Winson-Sagan.
We started in Santa Fe in late December and finished here a few days ago. I’ve left in our initials and numbering of links so you can see the process. The moon links aren’t in the traditional spots–it’s a pretty free approach. Might be some more revision yet. Enjoy!

1.These mountains
turn purple at dusk
then darker still

2.Hawk on a cactus
silent snow

3.Winter triangle
brighter than other

4.New Year’s in Japan
the paper store is closed

5.Waning moon
an old woman
sets out lettuce beds

6.My mother sings
at the Ikisan station

7.New house slippers
purple with polka dots,
Coming of Age Day

8.Cranes out on the river bed
no- boys in soccer shorts

9. Dark, light, dark, light
from the train window–
I touch my own pulse

10. Thunder clap awakens me,
blissful stretch under quilt

11. A steamed pork bun
cold kitchen
bright red tea kettle

12. If the weather clears
I’ll understand…everything

13. Wind that rattles 
paper screens-
passing dragon?

14. Your mouth on mine
knows no country

15. Words wrap around
my arms, they keep my spirit
from wandering.

16. Our neighbor across the way
lives like a monk

17. A dog pants over
the water bowl, rabbit—
a flash, and gone.

18. Hot asphalt, the whole city
strolls to a boom box beat.

19. At the window
naked woman, a breeze
moves the curtains

20. He looks at her from the bed
still surprised at his luck.

21. Long hair down her back
wet from the bath, sticks to skin
footprints left behind

22. Knit one, purl two, dropped stitch
just that kind of afternoon

23. Two rabbits
making mochi
in the moon.

24. The tomb on the street corner
at night, he goes walking.

25. Day of the dead
a sugar skull
with my name.

26. A stiff neck from reading
years pass 

27. A fleeting dream
all that remains, faint taste
sweet tea and milk

28. A lonely child looks out,
his computer screen glows

29. Fantastical 
castle– is the hero
prince or demon?

30. Watching anime under
covers with my mom

31. Leafless tress,
a pencil sketch
against the moon

32. The A-bomb dropped
here, as well

33. Hiroshima, don’t
feed the pigeons or sleep
in the peace park 

34. Bulbs finally come up
I see your hat

35. Laundry blooms bright
falling blossoms

36. A patient reward
new green shoots of garlic.

Poetry Submission Strategy: Whatever works for you

Sensible advice–enjoy!

Grant Clauser

litzinesI have a poetry group that meets once a month at a pizza shop. We’ve been going there for years, so the servers know us well enough to get our drinks without asking what we want.

While most of what we do at these gatherings is workshop our poems, we usually spend the first thirty minutes updating each other on our writing news, sharing our rejections and acceptances and general po-biz chat.

One thing that comes up from time to time is the issue of choosing publications to submit to. There are just so many, and many of them our really good, that sometimes you feel you spend more time just staring at the computer deciding between Well-Dressed Newt Review and Writer’s Tears Journal—and then you don’t send anywhere.

So, here are a couple culling strategies that I and my friends practice.

First and foremost, read a lot of…

View original post 770 more words



The first time I was in a hot tub I must have been in my mid-twenties in San Francisco. I took to it immediately. It seemed good for what ailed me. Once I discovered hot springs, from Calistoga to Ojo Caliente, they became a lifelong pursuit.
I was first in a Japanese bathhouse also in San Fran. Kabuki “Hot Springs” (they used city water) was situated in Japantown, the edge of the Fillmore. It was open to women two afternoons a week. It catered to its traditional Japanese neighbors, but was discovered by the lesbian community, Zen students, and general hippie types. This led to an interesting mix of women in the very hot pools.
In Seoul, Korea about twenty-five years ago I went frequently to the public baths. People stared at me of course—this was a remote corner of the huge city rarely visited by Americans—and stared at Isabel, my then six year old daughter. But in that freezing winter, the baths hit the spot. Years later, to my delight, a friend took me to a luxurious Korean bath at an actual hot spring beneath the city of Los Angeles.
This week, I’ve been twice to our local osen, or hot spring. We’ve had some trouble getting into hot water here in Japan because my millennial companions have tattoos. Tats are strictly forbidden in most baths because of their total association with yakuza—organized crime. Forget that Isabel’s are artsy Santa Fe ones. She’s banned. More hip venues in Tokyo might allow it, but we’re in the country.
So, first a scouting mission. One stop outbound from Ikisan Station to Chikuzen-Fukae. It’s a short lovely ride. We can see much of what we walk—the umbrella produce stand, the red torii gates up the mountain. The station is under construction, to replace the long difficult flights of old steps and crosswalks. Past the excellent fried chicken place. Almost to the bridge. To Nijoonsen Kirara ( at the sign of the happy stars soaking in a hot spring.
We figure out how to reserve a private tub and come back the next day. A few days later, Iz goes back in the private and I take the water in the public bath. It’s got six or so pools, one outside, ranging from very hot to icy cold. You scrub first, of course, and then…bliss.
There are lots of rules, and at first the 100 yen locker daunts me (the money is just a deposit, and keeps returning to me). I’m reminded of Iceland, that other hot spring heaven, where attendants are downright mean and bossy and yell if you cross a wet zone in your shoes. Here they are just strict. Also, Iceland is about swimming—lots of swimming. This is about being clean.
I can’t help but peek at everyone. Here is what I see. Women. How tender our bodies and stories are. How beautiful the young are. How even the very old may have the pretty backs of teenagers. How scars and childbirth mark flesh. How united we are, even though in our separate worlds.
It’s quiet, water lapping. One woman has her towel neatly folded on top of her head to keep it dry. I’ve just put my towel on a rack, perhaps violating some rule. I close my eyes. Everything is fine.

Japan Observations

There don’t seem to be any clothes’ dryers–laundry hangs everywhere. Including ours.

No tipping. It’s so nice not to have to think about it. Servers don’t depend on it. Meals are less expensive.

No napkins, really. Just hot cloths to wash hands before a meal. And no paper towels. I should have brought or bought a little washcloth at start of trip.

No doggie bags. There is takeout, but health laws forbid taking home leftovers (the dogs we’ve met all seem fine, though, and very cute).

It’s illegal to hail a taxi. Go to taxi stand.

Everything works! Vending machines do not jam up and eat your money. When you press the button, the train door WILL open. This is not the NYC of my childhood. (Of course not, but I have habits and reactions based on that.)


shadowed graveyard
stones of strangers
a foreign language

after the rain
old man on a bicycle
pedals by

I sit writing
by the shrine—perplex
the neighbors

I traveled
my whole life, just to enjoy

twisted leafless trees—
this slick moss
almost trips me up

politics blares
from the passing van,
clumps of narcissus

Photographs by Isabel Winson-Sagan